Foreign Friday: Pandora Hearts

“Your sin is your very being.” – Pandora Hearts

This week’s Foreign Friday entry is Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki.

The Story

The air of celebration surrounding fifteen-year-old Oz Vessalius’s coming-of-age ceremony quickly turns to horror when he is condemned for a sin about which he knows nothing. Thrown into the Abyss – an eternal prison from which there is no escape – Oz meets a young girl named Alice, who is not what she seems. Now that the relentless cogs of fate have begun to turn, will they lead only to crushing despair for Oz, or will Alice provide him with some shred of hope?

The Characters

Oz Vessalius is young, witty, and charming, with a strange knack to “accept things the way they are.” The air to an important dukedom, he is raised in high society, but his best friend is his valet, Gilbert. Gilbert himself is a dependable, devoted servant who no memory of his own past, and is easy prey for bullying. Alice is strong, brave, abrasive, and naive about the world. Together with Xerxes Break and Sharon Rainsworth, they make up the main cast of intriguing characters full of secrets and quirks.

What I Thought

Curiouser and curiouser! Pandora Hearts, set in a fictional world that seems to be in the 19th century (carriages, clothing design, etc), is a page turner with a good balance of action, mystery and humor. It references Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, so if you’re a fan, you’ll pick up interesting tidbits here and there. The plot is engaging and well written, with the concept of chains and contractors, as well as the idea behind the Abyss giving the vibe “the world is a mad place,” which is what I always felt when I read Carroll. Of course, Pandora Hearts seems to make a lot more sense to me than Alice ever did. There are 7 volumes currently available in English in the US, and the plot indicates that it will go quite a bit further.

The art style is clean and easy to follow. The translators have left in the movement words, translating them in the picture, which I actually found to be a bit irritating (I can’t help but read them, and I don’t really need to see the Japanese word spelled phonetically in English, and then the actual English word together. I felt it was distracting.) There is also an anime of Pandora Hearts, but it isn’t available in English, and if you watch it online with subtitles, they are fansubs, and the translations are…um…sometimes too literal to make sense to an native English speaker. I commend the people that take the time to do it though. Thanks. The anime ends before the ending of Pandora, so it’s not very conclusive. Still, fun action and good music.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. alicamckennajohnson
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 23:07:23

    Sounds like a great manga!


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